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From  Jamaica. On hurricane watch

As we went to press last night, there remained every expectation that Jamaica would suffer a devastating blow from Hurricane Dean. Whichever path it takes today, whether a direct hit on the island as forecast by meteorologists, or veering slightly to the north or south, the country is still likely to suffer significant damage to its physical infrastructure. Our experience with recent heavy rains indicates that many of the road structures are not able to withstand sustained rain erosion for several hours, let alone two days. The full impact on individuals' lives and the country as a whole will take some time to assess.

Some of the damage will be mitigated by the preparations that were done. Yet preparations have to be done at the individual and national level. There are some things that householders can do, and others that only a government can. The cleaning of drains and gullies, for example, is the responsibility of central and local government agencies. Individuals, however, set themselves up to experience untold suffering and damage when they dump rubbish and other debris into waterways. Thankfully, since our experience with Hurricane Gilbert in September 1988, we have managed to keep most aspects of the island's emergency response agencies sufficiently equipped to allow them to render aid as required. Yet, even in the best of planned scenarios, there will be situations that put the capabilities of these agencies to the test.

Many people were already under pressure to make adequate preparations, given their financial challenges. The state apparatus will also be under strain, but hopefully, we will riseto the challenges to help ourselves to recover as quickly as possible.

The immediate post-hurricane period will also throw up different challenges. There will be complaints of slow or inadequate response and of areas being inaccessible. Wit stress, there will be even more manifestations of short temper and anger. We urge all our fellow citizens to exercise due care, caution and patience in this time of national challenge.

With this hurricane coming at th of a general election campaign, the temptation to grandstanding, points scoring and exploiting the misery of people for political gain will be hard to resist among the more rabidly partisan among us. We appeal to our politicians to let good sense prevail and to do what they can for the national good, simply because it is the right and decent thing to do.

We have demonstrated in the past that we are a resilient people and that in times of crises we can join together to accomplish desired goals. Now more than ever is a time to be good neighbours, for when the storm is past, we will still have to live together.

Our prayer is that we will be spared the worst.

Source: Editorial. Jamaica Gleaner News

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